It is so much easier to prevent obesity than to treat it. Be vigilant. Watch those small
weight gains. Obesity happens one pound at a time. When you see your weight creeping up, nip it in the bud.
Change what you can. And encourage healthy eating in children (See preventing obesity in children).
The type of diet you eat is less
important than finding a diet you can live with. Studies on different diets all show that the amount of weight
lost with each diet depends mostly on how well you stick to the diet. We'll have the nuts and bolts and any evidence
to support claims reviewed in the following links.
Probably the most important component of any diet is conscious eating, whether it's counting calories,
counting fat grams, counting carbs, or simply reducing portion size.
Dietary information can
be very confusing, and the research sometimes makes us positively vertiginous. The bulk of the evidence, though, supports
the Mediterranean diet as the best at reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer, and at improving health. So that
diet is the one which I recommend routinely to my patients.
Other general recommendations from the wealth of nutritional research published currently:
- Eat fewer white carbohydrates
- Add low-fat milk products
- Eat fruits and vegetables
- Add good oils
that can be helpful
Avoid eating everything on your plate. Though we should be
appreciative that we have enough to eat, eating compulsively only leads to taking in many more calories than we intend.
Leave one bite on your plate to start paying attention to when your stomach is full.
Avoid distraction. Be mindful when you eat. Keep the television off. Don't eat at the movies.
Listen to your body.
Eat only at meal time. Most of us are not disciplined
enough to limit calories while eating snacks between meals.
Think of those hunger
pangs as a good thing. If you experience hunger, you will start burning fat! But you must eat several times a
day to keep your metabolic rate up, or your body will think you're starving and start lowering your metabolic rate to conserve
fat for the famine! If you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, be careful and watch your blood sugars.
Cardiovascular outcomes of selected diets
Very low carb
Decrease or no change
LDL = low density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol);
HDL = high density lipoprotein (good cholesterol); Triglyc = triglycerides (fats); CV events = cardiovascular events
(e.g. heart attacks and strokes); BMI = body mass index (how much you weight as compared to how tall you are); SORT
= strength of evidence (how good the research is to support the claim, with 'A' being the best quality studies and 'C' being
expert opinion but no great quality studies to support the opinion; 'B' means the studies are pretty good but need more high
quality to support the claim); AHA = American Heart Association dietary recommendations
In order to lose 1 pound a week, you must
reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories a day!
Other potential helpful tricks that have been shown to potentially help are to eat breakfast, add
more fiber to your diet (it fills you up more and speeds up the transit of food through your bowel), and use meal replacements.
Unfortunately, only meal replacements have stood up to randomized controlled trials as enhancing weight loss. However,
when the meal replacements are stopped, weight is frequently regained. Seeing a dietician can improve weight reduction
On-Line Calorie Counter
Long term calorie restriction may prolong your
life! Long term studies in monkeys and rats, and short term studies in humans, have shown that significant restrictions
of calories (in the context of a very healthy diet) can prolong life expectancy and reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease
and possibly cancer. (However, another study published in 2009 showed rats only showed these improvements if they were
genetically prone to obesity). Some evidence shows that caloric restriction acts in a similar fashion to resveratrol
(an antioxidant that may increase life expectancy by controlling the insulin-like signalling pathways).